Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pragmatic Hypocrisy

There is a Jain evangelist named Tarun Sagar who is famous for his "Bitter Sermon"s that ostensibly make his listeners bitterly aware of their hypocrisy. However, like all other Jain evangelists he chooses to remain silent on the major hypocrisy of humankind relating to the accumulation of wealth by a few which must necessarily be unjust to the majority poor. Recently he visited the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh at his residence and said that one of his dreams was to be able to give sermons in churches and mosques. Why he should have such a dream when the christians and muslims have a surfeit of their own sermonisers is rather perplexing. There was also today an article in the Hindustan Times newspaper by the historian Ram Guha lauding the philanthropy of industrialists. Philanthropy too is basically hypocritical as it tries to draw a mask over the stark fact of widespread thievery by the industrialists. These sermonisers, whether religious like Tarun Sagar or secular like Ram Guha, who side track the basic problem of thievery that underlines the economics of modern humanity and instead celebrate its hypocrisy unfortunately rule the media roost these days.
A related issue is that thrown up by the Niira Radia tapped telephonic conversation tapes. This lobbyist who went about wheeling and dealing in the corporate and political circles also happened to have contacts with top journalists. Some of these journalists who pontificate about honesty and transparency endlessly in the print and electronic media turned out to have suspicious conversations with the lobbyist where they seemed to be merrily taking part in her wheeling and dealing. Once again hypocrisy has come to the fore as it must wherever capital accumulation is the bottomline.
This is to be contrasted with the work the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath (KMCS), Narmada Bachao Andolan and other such mass organisations are doing. The KMCS has been trying its level best to get the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Forest Rights Act (FRA) on track. Consequently it has created a lot of problems for the administration which is bent on not implementing these beyond a point that accords with the general hypocrisy of all centralised governance. We had a meeting in the remote village of Vakner in a hilly fastness on the 1st of Decemeber. About a hundred people from about ten villages had congregated to discuss the latest situation with regard to the non-implementation of the above statutes. Suddenly a phone call came from Shankar who was in Bhopal that the Intelligence Bureau staff had called him to ask what the meeting in Vakner was about and that the administration was sending a police team to attend it! A little later a couple of policemen arrived. There was some discussion among the people in Bhili which the police could not understand as to whether they should be politely told to go away. Then some of the people came into a mischievous mood and said that let them hear what was being discussed as it was mostly critical of the government and administration. So they were given a cot in the middle of the assembly for sitting (all of us were sitting on the ground) and our discussions continued. They could not bear this for long and so they went away!
The response of the government is always to view with suspicion any mobilisation of the people. In this case the concern of the administration was higher because only two days before a delegation of members of the KMCS had met the District Collector and told him in no uncertain terms that legal action would be taken against him for flouting the law and this had been splashed in the local newspapers (anti-thievery campaigns do get news coverage because they also are a hypocritical vent that absolves society at large from doing anything radical).
Even though the government is jittery about the mobilisation of the KMCS in reality it is not very strong. Many of the members at the Vakner meeting were in fact coming to such a meeting after a very long time. They had been under the impression that they had got title deeds to their land under the FRA and so had distanced themselves from the distinctly risky workings of the KMCS. However, they had learnt only a few days ago that their title deeds were duds because they did not have accompanying maps that detailed the land that they were cultivating.
The KMCS in fact despite close to three decades of mass action has always been leading a precarious existence in terms of membership, action strength and finances. Though it was decided in the meeting in Vakner that a big demonstration would be held at the Block Office in Sondwa against corruption and inefficiency in MGNREGS implementation on Tuesday the 7th of December only about fifty people turned up for this. In fact as mentioned in earlier posts the KMCS afer a lot of cogitation has finally had to fall back on funding from philanthropic sources to sustain its work at a level that is even mildly threatening to the prevailing centralised hypocrisy. The only thing is that we realise that we are hypocrites and do not harbour any grand visions regarding our abilities and prospects and so are practising a pragmatic hypocrisy. An interesting nugget of information in Ram Guha's article mentioned above is that the Economic and Political Weekly which is a distinctly left of centre journal has taken a hefty donation towards augmenting its corpus fund from one of the founder board members of the Infosys Corporation to bolster its precarious finances. Thus, in these times when financial capital rules the world as never before, following a path of pragmatic hypocrisy is the only way in which radicals can live to fight another day.

No comments: